Apple TV 3rd generation review

After getting two Android TV boxes which failed to live to my expectation, I’ve decided to try a different ecosystem altogether. Something quite plain and obvious to Apple users like me but for some reason I have not considered before in the search for my ideal streaming solution. It's none other than the Apple TV of course. Now why didn’t I get an Apple TV earlier before? Well for a few valid reasons. First of all it doesn’t support external hard drives. How am I suppose to watch all my downloaded movies then? And then for the more affordable 3rd generation Apple TVs, you cannot download more apps other than the ones pre-installed on the device which I thought rather limits the ability of this digital media player.

Despite those limitations, I decided to give it a try anyway. So I got myself a used 3rd generation Apple TV online for 2/3 of the original brand new price. It’s a pretty sweet deal too, cause the unit I got was not really used yet and still in its original packaging. I suspect the seller got it free from a lucky draw or something. Now I’ve been installing about a dozen Apple TVs at work before so I’m pretty familiar with them. As always, this version of the Apple TV comes with an Apple TV remote and power cable, that’s all. You need to get your own HDMI cable to connect to your TV set. Aside from the provided physical remote, you can also install the Apple TV remote app on your iOS device. The virtual remote app works exactly like the physical remote which is highly useful since many of us tend to misplace the tiny original Apple TV.

Setup is straightforward and simple enough. Connect Wi-Fi and/or ethernet, sign in to your Apple ID and that’s it. The only usable app I found pre-installed on this Apple TV are the YouTube and Netflix apps. The rest are pretty useless to me because they're mostly paid but relatively unpopular American-based content provider. Unlike the pricier 4th generation Apple TV, you can’t download more apps on this 3rd gen Apple TV. In spite of that, the real killer application for this older Apple TV is the AirPlay capabilities. Basically you can stream audio and video straight from a lot of apps on your iOS device to the Apple TV and subsequently your TV. Even if your multimedia app doesn’t support direct streaming to AirPlay, you can always turn on mirroring on your iPhones or iPads and mirror everything on your device’s screen to your TV screen, practically magic.

This way, I can stream videos from the YouTube or VLC app on my iPhone to the TV, mirror a movie from my favorite pirate site or stream music from my Music app. Streaming quality is pretty good and determined by the speed or your Internet connection. This AirPlay feature is also supported on most Mac computers and laptops so you can stream stuff from those devices too. The possibilities are endless. What’s more, you can also play audio and video files straight from your Mac computer from the Apple TV provided they’re in the file format supported by iTunes/Apple TV. So far that includes MP3, AIFF, WAV, MP4, AAC and Apple Lossless (.m4a) file formats. So if your video file is in say AVI or MKV format, you’ll have to convert them to MP4 first to be able to play on the Apple TV. Sometimes I do that, sometimes I just mirror the files unconverted via AirPlay. From within the Apple TV menu, you just select the Computers button and select the audio/video files you want to play. Refer to this excellent guide from How-To-Geek website.

So how does the Apple TV compare to my previous Android boxes? As an avid Apple user like me, it’s a match made in heaven. I have several Apple devices including a MacBook and they work seamlessly with the Apple TV. The AirPlay streaming technology is the main selling point for this older generation Apple TV and it’s a worthy buy even with the limited number of apps. If you have more budget, you should totally get the latest version of the Apple TV with 16/32GB space for apps download. However if you’re in a tight budget (like me), the 3rd gen Apple TV should suffice for all your streaming needs at home. Other than that, the Apple TV is pretty small so you could hide it behind your TV if you want to or just let it be unnoticed under your TV set. Plus it doesn't use much power and goes into sleep mode when not in use. You can get a second hand unit for under 300 ringgit right now on or similar sites. Now that I’ve owned one, I must say they’re miles better than all the Android boxes that I’ve tried. Why I didn’t get one much earlier escapes me.

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